Saturday, November 11, 2017

At the Age of 35, I Have Finally Figured Out How to Style My Hair

My mother, bless her heart, taught me many things. She taught me how to gut a fish and build a fire. She taught me how to throw a punch and how to open a jackknife with one hand. She taught me to shoot pool and she imparted basic carpentry skills. I’m confident she would have taught me how to kill a puma with my bare hands if there’d been one handy, but there wasn’t, so I had to figure that out on my own.

But my mother – my tough, tomboyish mother – did not teach me how to wear makeup or walk in high heels. As a young teen I managed to patch together some knowledge of cosmetics from my friends and from teen fashion magazines, which had me putting on so many layers of makeup that you could have staged an archeological dig on my face. When my mother – my foul-mouthed, tattooed mother – pulled me aside to tell me I was putting on too much makeup, she couldn’t much advice aside from, “For Chrissakes, kid, use less.

I hated my hair for a long time. I have curly hair and grew up with no clue how to style it or care for it. My mother has straight hair and she muttered a lot about tangles and broken combs. She insisted I brush my hair, saying it was too thick and curly for a comb. It wasn’t until I was in my late twenties that another woman with curly hair informed me that I shouldn’t be brushing my hair; I should be combing it instead. Now I don’t even do that; I just run my fingers through it every few days to pull the tangles out. If it’s nice, I do it outside so that little birds can use my hair sheddings to make their nests.

How did I learn to style my hair? Through a combination of independent research and busybodies butting in when I’m grooming myself in a public setting. How often do I groom myself in a public setting, you might ask? Not that often; I’m not homeless. But take, for example, this wedding I went to several years ago now. It was a campout sleepover wedding, because that’s either the done thing now, or my entire circle of friends is as poor as I am. The day after the wedding, after having camped out, I was standing by my car brushing my hair – this was before I was told to stop brushing my hair – when some rando lady who was standing at the next car drinking from a bottle of water butted in and said, “Wow, that sure is some frizzy hair,” whilst giving me, ironically, the hairy eyeball.

“Yep,” I said, by which I meant, You don’t say. I hadn’t noticed.

“It sure does seem tangled,” Rando Lady said, by which she probably meant, You obviously don’t know how to take care of your nasty hair.

“Yep, it’s pretty curly.”

“Isn’t there something you can put on it? Like some mousse or something?”

“Maybe,” I said, by which I meant, I’m on a fucking camping trip, lady. Lower your expectations.

But, I have started putting mousse on my hair. I don’t think I’m doing it right; most of the mousse seems to end up caking my hair to my scalp, but I’m trying. I used the Internet to learn what a diffuser is and, eventually, through trial and error, I learned to use it. And my fourteen-year-old self would be pleased to learn that, at long last, as a grown damn woman, I can style my own hair.